53-B Maliksi St., Brgy. Pinyahan, 1100 Quezon City
Tel. nos. +(632) 433-1714 and +(632) 426-4048
The Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) is the research and information arm of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA). PhilRights was formally constituted on December 18, 1991, although it was already operating starting July 1991.
The formation of PhilRights resulted from discussions that started as early as 1986, the year PAHRA was founded by some 150 human rights organizations and individual advocates. Human rights advocates had long felt the need for a research and information institution that would provide information, documentation, research and analyses not only for the Philippine human rights movement but for the broader public as well. This need was validated in a national consultation in June 1990. By the 3rd National Congress of PAHRA in December 1990, the resolution for a human rights center was firmed up. Thus was PhilRights born.
PhilRights is an associated NGO of the United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) and has a special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC).
PhilRights’ Vision, Mission and Goals
PhilRights envisions a just, democratic, peaceful and prosperous Philippines founded on a culture of human rights and gender equity. It envisions a society where each individual is able to fully realize one’s potential as a human person, to participate effectively in the economic, political and cultural life, and to share equitably in the benefits of economic progress.
To achieve this, PhilRights seeks to empower Filipinos, either directly or through their organizations by:
1. Deepening awareness, knowledge and understanding of PAHRA and the general public about human rights conditions, issues and mechanisms;
2. Working for a dynamic human rights movement that is able to mobilize sectors and groups for timely and effective intervention in the promotion and defense of human rights, by providing human rights information and tools in information handling and dissemination;
3. Helping ensure state compliance with its human rights obligations through active monitoring and engagement;
4. Strengthening cooperation and partnership with local and international networks in the conduct of human rights activities through lively exchange and sharing of information; and
5. Enhancing people’s capability to promote and defend human rights through education and training on research, advocacy, and information handling and dissemination.
Program on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
Just a few years after it was established in 1991, the Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) embarked on a pioneering initiative to promote economic, social, and cultural (ESC) rights, mainly through these two related approaches:
a) mainstreaming ESC rights and other related human rights principles among civil society groups, government agencies, independent institutions like the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and
b) conducting a grassroots-based research to develop standards and indicators for monitoring ESC rights.
More than ten years hence, the ESC program of PhilRights bore the following significant outputs:
1. Research on ESC Rights
Since its involvement in ESC rights advocacy work, PhilRights has produced several important studies and materials which can be valuable in future involvements of the institution in ESC rights’ work. These include the following:
a.)“Monitoring Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights: The Philippine Experience.” Published in 1997, this book features the general framework and context by which ESC rights advocacy could be carried out in the Philippines. It also listed ESC rights vocabulary and initial standards and indicators culled from consultations conducted in the three major islands of the country, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao;
b.)“Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights Standards and Indicators: The Grassroots Perspective (2002),” was the output of the PhilRights research that employed a ‘grassroots-expert’ approach to formulate standards and indicators for five(5) ESC rights namely the rights to food, health, housing, work, and education.
c.)“Training on Your Rights: Modules on Monitoring Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (2005),” a manual containing modules on human rights and ESC rights orientation, monitoring and documenting ESC rights, ESC rights activism, data-gathering and documentation techniques, and ESC rights monitoring tools.
In late 2007, PhilRights in partnership with the leaders and organizers of KPML, conducted a field research in thirty (30) local villages in the National Capital Region (NCR) using a Barangay ESC Rights Profile Interview Guide earlier developed by the institution. The objective of the activity was to describe the nature of State compliance or non-compliance with its ESC rights obligations based on the inventory of available ESC rights-related infrastructure, programs, and projects in the localities.
Following the study in the 30 barangays, PhilRights and KPML again collaborated and conducted a barangay-focused research to determine the level of ESC rights enjoyment of a local population in an urban setting using an ESC Rights Household Interview Schedule. A similar village level study was conducted in Barangay Dine, Kasibu town in the northern province of Nueva Vizcaya to get a rural dimension of the ESC rights situation in the country.
2. HR Monitoring and Documentation Tools/Instruments
The urban and rural community researches on ESC rights resulted in the improvement and finalization of the survey tools, i.e. ESC Rights Household Interview Schedule, that can be used in gathering baseline data on and gauging, the state of ESC rights at the household level. The ESC rights household interview tools for both urban and rural are divided into several sections consisting of a list of questions and statements on the state of the rights to work, housing, health, food, and information and participation, as perceived and assessed by the individual respondents.
3. NGO Alternative Report on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
Another important development related to ESC rights advocacy work of the institution was the preparation and submission of an NGO ESC Rights Alternative Report in time for the hearing of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UNCESCR) on the Philippine government’s 2nd, 3rd, and 4th consolidated periodic reports on November 2008. The NGO Alternative Report was initiated and facilitated by PhilRights.
The 144-page alternative report that tackled the situation of the rights to work, social security, housing, food, health, water, education and resource allocation in the Philippines was the product of almost a year’s collaboration of more than fifty (50) NGOs and people’s organizations (POs) under the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Urban Poor Associates (UPA), HomeNet-Asia, and the Philippine NGO Coalition for Food Sovereignty and Fair Trade (PNLC).